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WR completes Sierra Sweep

Win gives Cougars hope for playoff berth

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WR completes Sierra Sweep

Weston Ranch's Charray Poole battles Sierra's Jerrod Patton for control of the ball during first-quarter action of Weston Ranch's one-point VOL win.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED February 20, 2010 2:13 a.m.
WESTON RANCH – With only 3.2 seconds remaining and the Sierra Timberwolves clutching onto a one-point lead, Weston Ranch senior Nate Moises strolled to the line with an opportunity to be a hero.

He seized his chance in Weston Ranch’s 60-59 Valley Oak League win.

Marcus Woods drove to the lane and had his shot partially blocked by Sierra’s Will Ward. Moises hauled in the ball and promptly made an inside post move, to draw a foul. Moises hit nothing but net on both shots, pushing his Cougars (11-5 VOL, 15-12 overall) up for good after Sierra’s Trevor Nogueira’s last-ditch effort fell short of the rim.

“Coach (Ryan) Bono and I have been working on free throws for over two years now,” Moises said of the game winners. “I changed up my routine this year to just one dribble and shoot.

“So I just did one dribble and shot without thinking and made them both.”

Moises, who led the Cougars this season averaging 12.3 points a game, had only managed four points before the two free- throw attempts but went to the line with an aura of confidence as if there was no way he would let his teammates down on senior night.

“I had all the confidence in the world in Nate tonight,” Weston Ranch head coach Ryan Bono said. “He has come a long way on his free throws. He has worked on it constantly in practice.

“Nate has been the leader of our team; as Nate goes so does our team.”

Sierra (11-5, 18-9) opened the game in its finest form, leaping out to a 21-12 first-quarter lead behind a pair of 3-pointers from Eddie Andrade and solid production inside from Ward. The Timberwolves’ hot start ceased immediately, as Weston Ranch held Sierra to two field goals in the second quarter.

“In that first quarter we got into foul trouble because Sierra came out so aggressive,” Bono said. “We told them at the end of the first quarter that we were settling for too many jump shots, and once we got aggressive we would be alright.

“I told them making up 10 points should not be a problem for us.”

Griffin Alexander tied things up with a bucket four minutes into the second and gave the Cougars their first lead since early in the first when he sank a pair of free throws awarded after Sierra head coach Scott Thomason was hit with a technical foul.

Weston Ranch didn’t slow up, erasing its entire deficit and building a 31-27 halftime lead. Sierra assured all it would be a game, retaking the lead 37-36 on Ward’s short 8-foot jumper with 3:40 in the third. Sierra led 46-44 beginning the fourth, yet simply could not find the formula to put the Cougars away for good.

“I was disappointed at a lot of things tonight,” Thomason said. “We had some silly turnovers in that first half and our inability to protect our paint defensively was frustrating. We know they drive the ball to the basket; it was just a lot of things.

“Give them a lot of credit, they’re just better than us -- they beat us twice.”

The Cougars were led by Ronnie Collins’ 15 points eight boards. His impact was felt most in the first half, where he pulled the Cougars back into contention with 11 first-half points, including a deep first-quarter 3-pointer.

“It was senior night, so I wanted to come up big and have a good game,” Collins said. “Will (Ward) did a good job last game, but I wanted to come back this game and do well rebounding and try and help my team.

“Whenever we’re down we’re looking to come back; this team never gives up.”

Fellow senior Deon Eley made major contributions, chipping in nine points, including a lead-snatching 3-pointer with 1:04 in the fourth. His final three points pushed Weston Ranch ahead 58-57. John Carungay added six points for the Cougars. Nogueira led all scorers with 19, while Ward finished with 15.

Sierra’s chances of continuing its season are realistically a tad bit better than the Cougars, simply because it entered the week as the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III power ratings as the No. 14 seed, whereas Weston Ranch was No. 16.

Tournament berths will be announced on Sunday, and both schools will be anxiously awaiting the results.

“We don’t know for sure if our season isn’t over,” Thomason said. “I guess we’ll just have to find out Sunday.

“We’re going to go back to the drawing board tomorrow and try and come out and play our best basketball next week.”
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